The Next US Secretary of State

Polish your resumes.  The rumor mill is churning. All indications appear to be pointing toward Secretary of State Clinton moving on to something new.  The role is immense, the opportunity great, and the pitfalls numerous.

James Traub explores one of (or the?) leading job candidate, with a helpful explanation of how the Obama administration has fashioned the position most recently:

It’s important to understand what space [John] Kerry, or someone else, would be seeking to fill. With a few important exceptions, Hillary Clinton has not been asked to formulate America foreign policy but rather to represent it, to talk about it, and to execute it. And she has done so almost flawlessly. If she is a conceptual thinker, she has kept her vision to herself. The big thinking in this administration comes from the Big Thinker in the White House, and a very small circle of aides. That is unlikely to change. And Kerry, though deeply familiar with everything and everyone, poses no danger of trying to impose a worldview of his own. He is an implementer, not a thinker. Tell John Kerry to take that hill, and he will take that hill or die trying.

via Secretary Kerry – By James Traub | Foreign Policy.

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6 thoughts on “The Next US Secretary of State

  1. Traub usually is very accurate in his articles, but he seems to have a bit of an infatuation with Kerry. Even before he was nominated as a presidential candidate in 2004, Traub published several articles on why Kerry was the ‘All-American.’ These articles are insightful, but the problem is that in every story, Traub admits that Kerry is often lacking a defined stance in foreign policy. So yes, he’s a great guy, excellent politician. But it sounds like anything involving international policy is not his forte.

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/clay-waters/2011/07/19/nyts-james-traub-john-kerry-latest-decent-serious-honorable-dem-destroy

  2. Traub says Kerry “enjoys the aura of the almost-commander in chief. He is, like Clinton, a kind of living embodiment of America. He is immensely solemn and judicious, like her, but, unlike her, immensely tall. He is a decorated veteran with the iron grip of the ex-athlete. His baritone voice bespeaks bottomless gravitas. The man looks and acts more like a secretary of state than anyone since George Marshall. As a casting decision, it’s a no-brainer.” Traub’s observations are mostly geared toward his perception of Kerry’s demeanor and personality, rather than his ability to carry out foreign policy. It’s the way he does things, not so much what those things are. Physical appearance and personality may be more important factors for politicians seeking elected office (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/2012/01/the-presidential-look-mitt-romney/), but I guarantee the president is taking these into account, especially since the Secretary of State is one of the more visible members of the cabinet. From the “casting” perspective, as Traub calls it, Kerry really is a good decision. If Traub is right about Hillary’s role, then Obama is searching mostly for a diplomatic face. Kerry is his man.

  3. SS Mughal says:

    I agree with the posts above: Traub definitely seems to be a fan of Kerry! I think the Secretary of State role is best suited to a person who can act as a representative without feeling like they’re being sold short. Policymakers are better equipped for roles that involve establishing laws, whereas a Secretary or State is expected to maintain those laws and represent the interests of the country accurately as they travel abroad. People who have served as diplomats in the past are good options for the job since they’re used to working as a mouthpiece for a country with limited visibility, as opposed to constantly having to advertise themselves and drum up support for their positions, like politicians.

    Here’s an article detailing some of President Obama’s potential picks for the next Secretary of State:
    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/55239907-68/obama-president-fiscal-election.html.csp

  4. Annie Ellis says:

    I understand that Hillary has stated numerous times that she is not planning to run for president again; however, I can’t help but wonder if she is stepping down as secretary of state in order to focus on starting her campaign. I could be completely wrong but it seems like it could be a possibility. I guess we’ll have to wait a while to find out for sure though.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-arnon/2016-showdown-hillary-vs-_b_2115185.html

  5. Some networks are reporting that Huntsman is a possible choice for secretary of state.
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865566373/Will-Huntsman-re-join-Obama-administration-as-Secretary-of-State.html

    I find this idea extremely appealing. As a successful governor, and a great ambassador to China I think he’d make a great member of the cabinet. It would also show how willing the president is to work alongside republicans. Huntsman has long been an advocate of putting real solutions of politics, and I think he’s exactly the kind of leader our country needs right now.

    • codyknudsen says:

      I like also like the idea of Jon Huntsman as a possible Secretary of State. I think his experience with China would be particularly helpful during the “pivot” toward Asia. The ability to speak Chinese, his acquaintance with the culture, and a President reaching across party lines to fill his cabinet could be very beneficial for the U.S. However, if Huntsman has any intention of running for president again, accepting a position like this in the Obama administration could hurt him politically, more so than being an ambassador hurt his presidential hopes this past election cycle.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304363104577387991864279630.html

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